For only the fourth time in franchise history, the Broncos fall to 0-4. Only one team has started 0-4 and gone on to make the playoffs. If you’ve watched the last four games and still believe this year’s team will be the second, you’re either on the payroll or an eternal optimist.
#Broncos (0-4) remaining schedule:— WBG84 (@WBG84) September 30, 2019
at L.A. Chargers
vs L.A. Chargers
Does anyone look at this and think there's a win somewhere? I have a hard time thinking so.
Realistically, the Broncos playoff hopes are in the dumpster, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to root for. There have been some really promising individual performances, after all. It does mean it’s probably time to accept that Denver’s playing the long game and working to build a core for the next playoff team.
The reality is this year's #Broncos squad ain't going to the playoffs. Instead of raging and blaming every single problem ad nauseam, my plan is to focus on the good individual performances and start to focus on how to build the next contender.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 30, 2019
This means it’s a great time to start poring over the 2020 draft and evaluating what Elway needs to do to get the Broncos back into the divisional race next year. So here we are. For the first time, this will be a 7-round mock draft. Obviously guys are going to move around a bunch between now and next spring, so bear with me.
Three big things before I get off and running:
- If you didn’t read the preceding paragraph and run to the comments to tell me how I’m giving up on this year’s team, or hate the Broncos, or it’s too soon... go back and read what I just wrote. If not, I’m going to disregard everything you say.
- Denver’s needs are all projections, and I went with The Draft Network’s predictive board, so if you want to argue “X will be here,” or “Y is going to breakout,” I’m not going to put up much of a fight. We’ll have a better idea in a couple months, so maybe you’re right.
- For this week’s projection, I followed Tankathon’s pick order. That means for the first time since we started doing mocks, Denver is picking 4th.
1st Round, Pick 4 - Justin Herbert, Quarterback
Considered: OT Tristan Wirfs, WR Jerry Jeudy, S Grant Delpit
The first three picks in the draft were Andrew Thomas, Chase Young, and Tua Tagovailoa. To be completely fair, I do not expect that to be the case next April. Still, it isn’t out of the question, so this does remain a possibility, if only a slight one.
It won’t surprise me if this pick turns a few readers off. After all, half of reader comments the last two days have been arguing about how Joe Flacco isn’t a problem. This completely misses the point. At 0-4 and seemingly staring a long way up Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, it’s fair to wonder if Joe Flacco will still be in the league the next time Denver’s a true Super Bowl contender.
The other argument will be for Drew Lock, and that’s one worth having. Taking Herbert seemingly dooms Lock to backup duties or a trade to another team. To pick a quarterback in the top five means Elway and the coaching staff don’t see their current heir apparent as a real long-term answer.
If you believe he is, feel free to pencil in any one of my other considerations for this pick. I grabbed Herbert in part to start the conversation. It’s time we do just that, Broncos Country.
Pretty impressive ball placement from Justin Herbert here on the back shoulder throw for the TD. pic.twitter.com/98JivLhrl2— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) September 22, 2019
2nd Round- Alex Leatherwood, Left Tackle
Considered: OT Prince Tega Wanogho, CB Trevon Diggs, S Xavier McKinney, DL Javon Kinlaw
The Bolles believers will tell you how he’s had zero holds the last two weeks. They’ll conveniently ignore plays like this:
If Bolles gets a piece of at least one of these guys, Lindsay likely picks this up. Had two guys he could take and blocked no one. https://t.co/Rdh6J3G6Ns— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) September 29, 2019
It wouldn’t surprise me if Leatherwood winds up in the first round come April. He’s one of the better run blockers in the country and his mobility in space would be a really nice fit in Scangarello’s offense. He’s played inside and outside, but slid out to the left tackle spot for the Tide after Jonah Williams went to the Bengals last spring.
He’ll need to improve his technique, but that’s why Mike Munchak’s employed.
3A - Devonta Smith, Receiver
3B - Markus Bailey, Linebacker
Considered: OL Liam Eichenberg, OL Zach Shackelford, LB Paddy Fisher, DL Raequan Williams, CB Darnay Holmes, OL Walker Little, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
It may be a pipe dream to hope Smith is available this deep down the board. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller sounds convinced he’ll be a first rounder if he comes out this year. However, all I can do is pick the guys in front of me, and after his 11-catch, 274 yard, five touchdown game against Ole Miss, the 6’1 175 lb Smith looks like a good replacement for the departing Emmanuel Sanders.
Bailey is the kind of pick you either love or hate. Prior to tearing his ACL, the 6’1 230 lb Boilermaker was showing the kind of hybrid skill set backers need to really thrive in today’s pace and space NFL. He’s undersized and the medical checks would be important, but in a shallow linebacker class, this seems like a good time for the flier.
11 REC, 274 YDS, 5 TD— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 28, 2019
DeVonta Smith’s record-breaking game was one of the best performances you’ll see from a wide receiver. pic.twitter.com/HtEPV3kT5O
4th Round - Marvin Wilson, Defensive Line
Considered: iOL Lloyd Cushenberry, DL Neville Gallimore, DL Nick Coe, DB Essang Bassey,
Another guy I didn’t expect to have a shot at. Wilson is a 6’5 323 pound dancing bear who came to Florida State as a five star recruit and is finally playing up to it. If Fangio wants to find a prospect who could eventually look a lot like Akiem Hicks, he could do a heck of a lot worse than Wilson.
Most total pressures, FBS D-Lineman:— Cam Mellor (@PFF_Cam) September 23, 2019
Cory Durden, FSU - 25
Curtis Weaver, Boise St - 23
Jonathan Garvin, Miami (Fl) - 22
Alex Highsmith, Charlotte - 21
George Karlaftis, Purdue - 20
Marvin Wilson, FSU - 20
Alton Robinson, Syracuse - 20
Carlos Basham, Wake - 20
5th Round - Trajan Bandy, Slot/Corner
Considered: ED Michael Divinity, OL Hakeem Adenjji, S Richie Grant
Chris Harris Jr. is already talking about leaving next year, and his name is starting to get thrown around in trade scenarios. Bryce Callahan hasn’t played one regular season snap since signing as a free agent. Kareem Jackson missed the Jaguars game.
Minus those three, the Broncos will have Isaac Yiadom, De’Vante Bausby, and Duke Dawson logging significant snaps. Depending on what happens with Jackson and Callahan, this position could become a critical need (which may be why The Draft Network writers continue to mock Kristan Fulton to Denver week after week after week).
Bandy is the kind of undersized fighter Fangio seemed to love this past off-season. He tackles bigger than his listed size and offers intriguing ball skills. Most likely, he’d eventually grow into a slot for the Broncos.
Miami CB Trajan Bandy gets beat off the release, but does a great job reading the QB and recovering to make the INT. A name to watch in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/9pIToBUZza— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) April 28, 2019
6th Round - David Dowell, Safety
Barring some serious development over the rest of the season, it currently looks like the Broncos have Justin Simmons and a lot of question marks on the back end. Kareem Jackson could wind up being the other starter if he ever gets a chance to slide back from the slot, but he’ll also be 32 about two weeks before the 2020 draft.
Dowell is regarded as one of the coaches on the field for Michigan State’s defense, who use a scheme that could help him adjust to the Broncos. He’s also been a member of the Spartan’s leadership council multiple times, so he’d bring the kind of character coaches love.
7th Round - Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Line
Considered: WR Justin Jefferson
Cosmi is a long, lean, athletic machine who will need to get stronger at the next level. This pick was more so Munchak could start to really build up the offensive line depth than anything else.
What grade would you give this draft?
This poll is closed
A - I love it!
B - I like it.
C - I feel nothing.
D - Not a fan.
F - You’re worse than Elway, Joe.
Your Broncos Links
The Denver Broncos season just went from bad to worse with the loss of Bradley Chubb for the season to an ACL tear.
-The Broncos had to use $18.5 million in cap dollars for Flacco’s 2019 services.
-Thanks to carryover, it does not matter whether the Broncos incur all of that in 2019, or some of it in 2019 and the rest of it in later cap years.
-The restructure does not guarantee, either de jure or de facto, Flacco a spot on the Broncos’ roster in 2020.
-The Broncos are in fine cap shape for 2020, even if they do carry $13.6 million for a Flacco that is no longer on the team.
The Denver Broncos fall to 0-4 for the first time since 1999 and just the fourth time in franchise history.
The Oakland Raiders have hired and fired a head coach every other year in the last two decades. It’s not a road John Elway should drive the Denver Broncos down.
No Broncos team has ever started 0-5.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) September 30, 2019
Monday musings: Aftermath of 0-4 start | Trading vets, forgetting the past & assigning blame - SI.com
Vic Fangio and company were given a poor roster with aging vets and growing youths, switching schemes across the board on offense, the offensive line, and defense, while trying to start a new quarterback. It was always going to take time for the players to get comfortable in their new roles and the schemes to take shape. The hope was that the Broncos would be able to stay afloat long enough and win games as they ‘figured it out’ and developed chemistry along the way. This has not been the case.
They keep grinding. That’s what they do. This Denver Broncos teams isn’t as bad as the two previous seasons, but they aren’t over the hump just yet.
At 0-4, the Denver Broncos should come to terms with their situation and start building for the future. And that means getting some value now from a few key veterans.
It’s an accurate description of the second-half unraveling of the Broncos’ defense that was on the field 40 of 60 minutes Sunday.
Not this season. Dead cap over $19mil. https://t.co/rR1X2Rb9GA— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) September 30, 2019
I’m still on board with the Vic Fangio hire. It was a smart, long-haul move to bring in a no-nonsense, respected adult in the room by John Elway. But the most stunning aspect of his early tenure is that in the first three games, the first 29 drives, his ace pass-rushers, Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, have zero sacks and three quarterback hits. By Thursday, Miller, normally affable, was so fed up with the local media’s questions (what did you expect?) about the disappearing pass-rush that he read a statement and refused to take questions. What I’ve noticed, particularly Week 1 at Oakland, is passers are focused on getting the ball out fast because they fear the impact of Miller and Chubb off the edge. And because the Broncos have most often been playing from behind, foes (especially Chicago in Week 2) have been living on the run. The pass rush was better Sunday in the 26-24 loss to the Jags. But the Broncos still are feeble, 0-8 since December and nothing they can count on.
The Broncos are now 8-24 in their last 32 games. That’s .250 over the equivalent of two full seasons. Not good.
NFL Draft Links
Today’s edition of Studs & Duds is dedicated to recognizing those who are rising and falling the most on tomorrow’s Big Board update -- which will feature my current top 150 prospects.
Vic Fangio needs corners who can play -- dominate -- in a variety of coverages in order for his defense to regain its teeth -- a large part of the early struggles for the pass-rush is married to the corner play, in my opinion. With Chris Harris entering a contract year and likely to move on, and the depth in De’Vante Bausby, Isaac Yiadom, and Duke Dawson showing minimal promise, I like Fulton for Denver’s needs. The most physically gifted corner in the class, Fulton was a Round 1 guy last year, and could very well be a Top-10 guy this year.
Chris Harris is in the final year of his contract with the Broncos, and while they would love to have him back, it seems likely that he moves on next offseason. While they do have some interesting talent at the cornerback position, losing a player like Harris obviously leaves a massive hole at the position. I do not think that the Broncos need to force a cornerback selection early, but Okudah not only fills a major position of need, he is also one of the best players on the board.
2020 NFL Mock Draft: Giants find a wide receiver for Daniel Jones, Vikings take a quarterback - CBSSports.com
The Broncos take... Javon Kinlaw 3rd overall? Over Chase Young? Over Justin Herbert?
Bucs’ outside linebacker Shaq Barrett’s production through four weeks has put his name in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year
Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins did not play particularly well against the Giants but he showed promise despite impossible circumstances.
Jay Gruden gave in and finally put his first-round rookie on the field, revealing to the world what Washington already knew: Haskins is not ready. Now the question, for an embattled coach overseeing a team short on talent, is whether or not to keep rolling with the rookie.
On Sunday, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen came very close to publicly calling out quarterback Kirk Cousins. On Monday, coach Mike Zimmer echoed Thielen’s point, in a very simple, matter-of-fact way.
Sunday’s game confirmed for everyone what many suspected: For Kirk Cousins, those “You Like That?!?” moments are too few and too far between. For the Vikings, who have Cousins under contract for another 28 games, the question is whether they like that enough to keep paying him.
Kirk Cousins: 3 years, $84M— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) September 30, 2019
Stefon Diggs: 5 years, $81M
Adam Thielen: 4 years, $64M
Vikings: 31st in passing yards per game, 32nd in passing first downs per game
Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict is looking at another suspension for illegal on-field hits and it will reportedly be a lengthy one. Chris Mortenson of ESPN reports that Burfict is facing a season-long ban in response to Sunday’s conduct.
Bills defensive back Micah Hyde intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the end zone on Sunday, and afterward Bill Belichick wanted to know about it. Channel 25 in Boston got postgame video of Belichick running after Hyde following the game, asking what happened.
All things considered, the news could have been a lot worse for the Bears. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky should be back “sooner rather than later” after his left shoulder injury Sunday.